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  • Critics line up against LANL plutonium lab, Associated Press, May 27, 2011
    to scale back and force a change in the long term mission for Los Alamos which was founded during World War II to develop the world s first nuclear weapons We ve been working for a diversification of the mission ever since the end of the cold war in 1989 said Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety whose members attended the public hearings held last week in Albuquerque Los Alamos Espanola and Santa Fe If we are really moving toward a nuclear weapons free world the lab has an enormous amount of expertise that should be used in the field of non proliferation and the rounding up of these materials Instead critics charge the lab is looking to beef up its nuclear bomb making capabilities with the new lab that they say would dramatically increase its nuclear bomb making and storage capacities While a decision on whether to move forward with the facility is not expected until fall the announcement last week of nuclear weapons expert Charles McMillan s appointment as the new director for Los Alamos underscored critics concerns that the 60 year old bomb building mission for the facility that employs some 12 000 workers is far from abating It s very clear that Los Alamos is has and will be primarily a nuclear weapons laboratory said Greg Mello a former environmental regulator at the lab and co founder of the 20 year old Los Alamos Study Group In fact the emphasis on nuclear weapons and on the manufacture of nuclear weapons is expected to increase for the next decade or more Last week s hearings centered on the new lab which is officially called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility Lab spokeswoman Tony Chiri disputes assertions the intent of the lab is to

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/AP_27May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Fukushima be Damned, Federal Court Brushes Off Seismic Nuke Risks, Russ Wellen, May 25, 2012
    2007 to fund the program Also the updated U S Nuclear Posture Review Report mandates that In any decision to develop warhead LEPs Life Extension Programs the United States will give strong preference to options for refurbishment or reuse the preferred strategy is to reuse existing pits where necessary or simply refurbish the balance of the warhead As of the end of Fiscal Year 2009 the total size of the U S warhead stockpile was about 5 000 warheads and about 14 000 pits recovered from decommissioned warheads were in storage at the Pantex warhead assembly disassembly facility in Amarillo In other words There will be no shortage of pits to reuse Let s hope that those who worry that the United States would run out of these infernal little internal destruction machines will rest easy now Also testifying was LASG executive director Greg Mello When asked by LASG s lawyer about the CMRR NF s estimated cost he responded In November 2010 the White House estimated the budget at 3 7 to 5 8 billion Defendants recently pushed back the projected date of a reliable cost estimate to 2015 In fact emphasis added In its submissions to Congress NNSA is just writing TBD in the future cost and schedule columns Echoing von Hippel or vice versa not sure who testified first Mello explained that the Department of Energy s science advisory group known as JASON reviewed research done at LANL and Livermore on pit life JASON concurred with these labs that most U S pits would last for a century or more There are also extra pits for almost every kind of warhead thousands in all and these reserves as von Hippel also mentioned are growing as warheads are dismantled Production of new plutonium pits is not necessary to maintain a very large diverse powerful nuclear weapons stockpile for several decades to come Besides which it seems the NNSA may have bitten off more than it can chew I ll break down the relevant paragraph of the LASG newsletter into bullet points The NNSA is attempting to create existing and planned new programs in the building including new pit production and industrial scale production of plutonium dioxide for mixed oxide MOX reactor fuel the production of additional kinds of plutonium pits and in much larger numbers than before while also trying to fix the building in fundamental ways while also undertaking a giant construction project immediately adjacent to the facility not to mention several smaller projects in the 50 300 million range that NNSA hopes to start nearby as well In the lawsuit LASG contended that the project should not proceed without a valid new environmental impact statement EIS to address seismic risks that creation of the facility at Los Alamos might incur Apparently the area is at risk of earthquakes as large as those that rocked Japan Worse the site rests on loose volcanic ash especially susceptible to shifting should an earthquake occur which can result in fire

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/articles/Wellen_25May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • LANL: Request to halt work on nuke facility denied, SFNM, May 24, 2011
    here Smith also invited the plaintiffs to return to court when there is a formal record of a decision on this process saying the matter was still premature but would be ripe for a challenge at that point The final conclusions of the ongoing environmental review are not yet known Herrera noted in her opinion and may eventually answer some or all of the plaintiffs objections If that doesn t turn out to be the case she said the plaintiffs will have the opportunity to file a new complaint The court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that it would be imprudent to halt all work including design analysis Herrera wrote Herrera rejected the plaintiffs objections to Torgerson s findings and therefore denied an injunction which sought to stop the project until a new environmental review was complete The new review process might have delayed the project for a couple of years or longer One of the factors that Herrera cited in her decision was that the nuclear facility was not under construction pending completion of the current environmental review process But the project is expected to take at least 10 years after the start of construction to become operational she noted Thus the danger of rendering an otherwise valid case moot through project completion is much reduced in this case She also dismissed the group s contention that the National Nuclear Security Administration has violated the National Environmental Policy Act by picking its preferred alternative before having completed the analysis We re pleased with the decision Los Alamos Site Office spokeswoman Toni Chiri said We weren t sure when it was gong to come but it was good to have the news to start the week There was some question about whether the hearings would have continued if the decision

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/SFNM_24May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Plutonium Lab Work Gets Go-Ahead, ABQ JRNL, May 24, 2011
    Los Alamos Study Group which filed the suit said he and his colleagues were disappointed and had made no decision about a possible appeal We are still assessing our options Mello said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon The decision came as the federal agency began four days of public hearings in New Mexico on the project beginning Monday in Albuquerque Los Alamos National Laboratory and federal officials say the building is needed to continue the lab s nuclear weapons work It would contain space for scientists working with plutonium and other radioactive materials that are used in nuclear weapons Critics contend that the new building would enable the manufacture of new U S nuclear weapons and is not needed as the U S stockpile declines The project has been plagued by delays and cost overruns The most recent cost estimate is 3 7 billion to 5 8 billion a fourfold to sevenfold increase over the estimated price just four years ago The Albuquerque based Los Alamos Study Group had asked for an injunction halting design work on the building known as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility In a statement NNSA spokeswoman Toni Chiri said the agency is pleased with Judge Herrera s decision The NNSA is committed to carrying out this process in an appropriate and responsible manner the statement continued as we seek feedback from the community on the CMRR Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement through the National Environmental Policy Act process The Study Group argued that the work violates the National Environmental Policy Act which requires environmental studies before federal agencies can take action on a project A detailed environmental study on the project was completed in 2003 but the Study Group argued in court filings that the project has changed sufficiently since that

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/ABQ-JRNL_24May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • FPIF - Raise Your Hand if You Think the Expansion of Our Nuclear- Industrial Complex Escapes Iran, May 23, 2011
    to throw out LASG s lawsuit or b temporarily pause the project in order to give the court the opportunity to hear evidence on the LASG s contention that the project cannot proceed without a valid new environmental impact statement EIS to address primarily the sesmic risk Hearing held the LASG is cautiously optimistic Noted nuclear physicist Frank von Hippel who during Perestroika helped sell the Russians on monitoring and verification as chronicled in David Hoffman s Pulitzer Prize winning The Dead Hand testified LASG s lawyer asked von Hippel why he thought a new study of alternatives to the CMRR NF was called In part he replied The need for large scale pit production has vanished In 2003 the NNSA was arguing that the United States needed the capability to produce 125 to 450 pits per year by 2020 to replace the pits in the US weapon stockpile that would be 30 to 40 years old by then But in 2006 we learned that US pits were so well made that according to a Congressionally mandated review of Los Alamos and Livermore studies on pit aging Most primary types have credible minimum lifetimes in excess of 100 years as regards aging of plutonium Besides although the Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories have been lobbying to develop and manufacture new design reliable replacement warheads and the Bush Administration supported the idea Congress refused in 2007 to fund the program Also the updated U S Nuclear Posture Review Report mandates that In any decision to develop warhead LEPs Life Extension Programs the United States will give strong preference to options for refurbishment or reuse the preferred strategy is to reuse existing pits where necessary or simply refurbish the balance of the warhead As of the end of Fiscal Year 2009 the total size of the U S warhead stockpile was about 5 000 warheads and about 14 000 pits recovered from decommissioned warheads were in storage at the Pantex warhead assembly disassembly facility in Amarillo In other words There will be no shortage of pits to reuse Hope those concerned that the United States would run out of these infernal little internal destruction machines will rest easy now Also testifying was executive director Mello When asked by LASG s lawyer about the CMRR NF s estimated cost he responded In November 2010 the White House estimated the budget at 3 7 to 5 8 billion Defendants recently pushed back the projected date of a reliable cost estimate to 2015 In fact emphasis added In its submissions to Congress NNSA is just writing TBD in the future cost and schedule columns Echoing von Hippel or vice versa not sure who testified first Mello explained that the Department of Energy s science advisory group which is referred to as JASON reviewed research done at LANL and Livermore on pit life JASON concurred with these labs that most U S pits would last for a century or more There are also extra pits

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/articles/FPIF_Wellen_23May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • LANL Facility a Costly Sham, Peter Neils Op-Ed, May 22, 2011
    Alamos Study Group believes that the project now bears so little resemblance to the one scoped in 2003 that the original environmental impact statement is no longer applicable We have filed a lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act to compel the NNSA to comply with the act and initiate a new impact statement In response to our lawsuit NNSA has conducted a supplemental environmental impact statement We regard this as an evasion of its responsibility under the National Environmental Policy Act and have testified accordingly before a federal judge in an effort to halt work on the project until the merits of our complaint are reviewed Without an applicable environmental impact statement roughly a half a million dollars a day is still being spent on this project Hearings to gather public comments on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement will be conducted in the next week at several locations in New Mexico We believe that the appropriate response from concerned citizens should be a boycott of these proceedings Various citizen groups are organizing turnouts for these hearings representing to their constituencies that testifying during the public comment period that they do not want this facility to be built will somehow affect what the NNSA is doing First nothing could be further from the truth If their opposition to the project is the substance of their testimony it will have no effect on the project Second their participation contributes credibility to NNSA s effort to use this sham to satisfy its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act Citizens are evidently sufficiently disempowered that they will grasp at any straw to convey their sentiments to our government even when informed that the venue is inappropriate or that their participation may be used to validate what amounts to a type of

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/articles/Neils_ABQ_JRNL_22May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • NO DECISION ON CMRR-NF AS GOV’T, ACTIVIST GROUP DUKE IT OUT IN COURT, Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, May 7, 2011
    300 million budget in Fiscal Year 2011 for work on the final design The preliminary construction phase is expected to start later in 2011 but the building would not be ready for occupancy until 2022 Gov t SEIS Should Suffice Alternatively Herrera can find for the defendants the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy Smith has called for a summary dismissal of the lawsuit Citing a new draft analysis that was released last week Smith argued that a supplemental environmental evaluation is underway The draft SEIS is intended to validate the project and it incorporates new seismic and safety information that has altered the scope and scale of the nuclear facility according to the officials but not the purpose for which facility was originally authorized in 2004 The statute of limitations has expired for appealing that decision Smith argued and the time is not ripe to challenge the process while a new Record of Decision has yet to be finalized Hnasko argued in his opening declaration that the laboratory has made irretrievable commitments to the nuclear facility which is why they are unable to consider alternatives that might serve the purpose more efficiently In his concluding rebuttal he said some kind of NEPA process was indeed going on But he said it was irrelevant because no credible alternatives had been analyzed and even the alternative of renovating the old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility with major upgrades was barely examined They are going forward with one project and they re going to paper it over with a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement he said We have no Record of Decision for this project and until we get that ROD you have to stop Group Blasts Lack of Choice Smith suggested that once a new ROD is issued it

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/NWMM_7May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • No Decision Yet in CMRR Lawsuit, Special Bulletin: Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, May 5, 2011
    interesting exchange came from federal Judge Judith C Herrera who explored the Los Alamos Study Group s argument that the NNSA has side stepped National Environmental Policy Act rules and moved forward with the project despite drastic changes Rather than complete a full environmental analysis the NNSA has opted to update the 2003 Environmental Impact Statement for the facility with a supplement analysis and plans to issue a new Record of Decision later this year but the Study Group and its lawyer has argued that the agency hasn t seriously considered other options aside from building the multi billion dollar facility and is seeking an injunction to halt work on the project How does that process square with what the plaintiff says the fact that the supplement is basically a sham process that the options on the table are pre ordained or aimed at a particular result Herrera asked Justice Department lawyer Andrew Smith who was arguing the case for the NNSA Smith noted progressive changes and input from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and the inclusion of a deep or shallow option for excavation of the facility However Study Group lawyer Tom Hnasko called NNSA s latest draft

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/NWMM_5May2011.html (2016-02-16)
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